Yesterday’s Sunday School lesson was an overview of the Beatitudes, with emphasis on persecution. Take a look at Matthew 5:1-12 and Luke 6:20-23.
The Beatitudes build on each other, and as you develop them and become more like Christ, you get to graduate and become persecuted. That’s right, we get to be persecuted!
That sounds like an odd thing to be excited over, but we’ve been told in the Bible that being persecuted for doing what’s right is actually good (Matthew 5:11-12; Luke 6:22-23; 1 Peter 4:12-14). The apostles even got excited about it (Acts 5:41).
Persecution is made for the benefit of all the people involved. It grows us as Christians and makes us stronger. It shows people that there’s more to life than just hardship and struggle, more than just reacting to what happens to us. It shows people around us that God is real, and shows them what He is like and that He can bring people through anything.
When you are being shunned, troubled, and harassed for doing what God tells you to do, that means you’re doing something right. If you don’t run into some opposition now and then, you might be going the wrong way. Persecution means you’re heading the right way!
Persecution isn’t something God just lets you handle alone. He’s with you the whole way! God may give you quite a lot to handle, but He’s not going to leave you to handle it by yourself. There are a lot of things you literally can’t handle, but because God is there you can handle them. This in turn deepens your relationship with God. You trust Him more, communicate with Him better, and know just how much He loves you!
Being persecuted grows you and makes you stronger in your faith. A tree growing in an indoor mall doesn’t get as tough and strong as one growing outside. You don’t build muscles by never pushing them against some resistance and carrying some weight. And though being persecuted is designed to make you stronger, it can also sometimes mean you are strong enough and trusted enough for God to walk you through a particular set of it.
Being persecuted brings glory to God, shows His power. People both saved and unsaved need to see what God is doing and what He can do. Sometimes He uses you to show people that. Think of a strong Christian you know that went through some persecution. Didn’t God display something amazing through that? A lot of the time we ask, “Why me?” While we do certainly benefit from persecution, sometimes it isn’t even about us at all! Sometimes God is demonstrating to someone else just as much as He is demonstrating to you!
We can and should get excited about persecution. Through persecution you grow stronger. You gain the reward of deepening your relationship with God. You and others get to see God’s wonderful power!